Katrina: 10 Years Later
Relief efforts through the eyes of the Skipper
On the 29th of August 2005, having ravaged South Florida on its way through the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States, leaving a wake of massive destruction and devastation of Biblical proportions across an area reaching from the western panhandle of Florida to Louisiana.
Editor's note:It's been a decade since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. Follow along the relief efforts with a one of a kind perspective through the eyes of Capt. Richard Callas (USN, Ret.) commanding officer of the USS Iwo Jima in 2005. The following pages began as a husband writing home to his spouse but have since transformed into a historical account of the Navy's contributions during the relief efforts.
Going Ashore after Katrina
Sunday, 4 September - It is after midnight and I finally have a chance to catch my breath and drop you a note. I did go ashore today with about 150 Sailors to support two clean up efforts: a local High School that was being used as a shelter for 500-1200 people and a church that was completely devastated. I worked on the church project with about 120 Sailors. The area was hit hard. Everything made by man was swept away a couple hundred yards from the beach. Only the trees, thick majestic southern oaks, stood the trial despite having their branches ravaged. The church was gone. We spent several hours just clearing the wreckage away and piling it along the side. It was like an archeological dig in that we recovered bits of glass, broken china (and quite a few pieces that were intact), toys, a Bible, broken lamps. The church had an open air mass with some 150 parishioners that morning standing in among all the wreckage. We cleared the wreckage, but carefully stacked all the keepsakes, whether broken or whole, all around the make-shift altar. I found a picture of a baby, mostly deteriorated, that must have been on someone's desk. We thought the saved keepsakes will have some emotional value to the owners. It was hot, nasty, and dirty work, but everyone was inspired to do their part, and I was glad, even blessed, to have the opportunity to do this with my Sailors.